Why It is Important to Spend Some Time Alone

Today, because everything is so fast-paced, we end up thinking that taking a break is a waste of time. We want to stay productive because of all the demands in work, in school, sometimes even at home. But, we need to start realizing that taking a step back can also be beneficial. Here are some reasons why it is important to have some “me time”.

A time to relax

Taking a break and taking some time off things is probably one of the main reasons to spend some time alone. When you’re alone, you can generally let go of your worries for a while and even take a rest from all your work. It can be a way for your brain and body to slow down, ease up, and recharge. That is why spending time alone is a great way to refresh the mind and re-energize the body.

You become more creative

If you get the chance to notice, your thoughts flow differently if you are alone and if you are with others. This is simply because when you are alone, your mind can wander freely. When you’re with a group, on the other hand, your thoughts are restricted only in relation to the conversation. When your mind is allowed to wander, you will begin to get more and more ideas and you’ll be able to look at things from different perspectives.

You’ll be able to make plans

Of course, alone time doesn’t mean you have to do nothing. You can use this time to be productive and plan out your activities as well. Alone time allows you to list down and track your goals, achievements, future endeavors and etc. You’ll also have space to arrange your work and organize some tasks beforehand.

It will improve your emotional and mental strength

Sometimes we can get so stressed emotionally and mentally that we can’t help just having some alone time. But you really shouldn’t wait until you’re totally stressed out to enjoy some quiet time. Occasionally spending some time alone can help you take a step back and work through your problems. This, then, will help you build emotional and mental strength because you can now manage stress more effectively.

You can be more independent

Say for example there was a new trend in Singapore regarding partying. Your peers start to go with the trend but you know that it can affect your productivity at work. When you are a part of this group, it’ll be easy to submit to their way of thinking as well. But if you spend some time alone, you’ll be able to discern what’s right or not. You’ll be more self-reliant and you won’t have to seek attention and approval from others.

What is Dopamine and How Can You Make the Most of It

What is dopamine and why is it so important? Well, here’s why. Dopamine is a hormone produced by our body that gives us the feeling of happiness and fulfillment. Now this hormone is the main reason why we feel emotionally happy or up. Basically when we lack dopamine, we experience sad or down emotions. This is why this hormone is very important. There are a lot of other uses of this hormone but let’s keep it simple.

This is all you need to know about dopamine to make it important. Dopamine comes in so many forms. Sugar and coffee can trigger dopamine production and this is why too much sugar makes us experience a sugar high. We become more energetic and feel more positive when we produce more dopamine in our body. Sadly, this is an unnatural way of increasing dopamine production within our body which means that this doesn’t have a good effect in the long run.

One reason most people experience low dopamine in their body is because of the irregularity of dopamine production within the body. When our body is used to instant gratification, our body’s expectation of dopamine becomes higher and thus makes us crave for more dopamine within the body. This can be very dangerous because if the bar is set higher, the easier it is for us to feel down and sad.

Taking care of our body and our emotions means taking care of our protein production. Don’t underestimate the power of dopamine! If you are experiencing lack of motivation, low self-esteem, and basically feeling down most of the time, this may be caused by irregular dopamine production within your body and instead of finding an instant fix or an instant way of increasing the dopamine within your body, why not increase your natural dopamine production?

Increasing the natural production of dopamine in your body to reach a state of equilibrium could be pretty hard but definitely not impossible! A lot of people have been able to get themselves out of depression because of how they learned about dopamine and did their research in countering irregular dopamine production.

Even if most people blame it on the culture and the norms of the food we eat, the activities we do, and even the instant availability of information, there are still a lot of reasons as to why most people nowadays experience irregular dopamine production. Learn how to conquer your problems instead of escaping from them. The more you try to escape from your problems, the stronger they become and the more they will haunt you. Learn to fight your problems by tackling the source of you feeling down, dopamine!

Multi-Tasking: 3 Reasons why it’s Actually Counter-Productive

With all the ways modern technology allows us to make our work easier for us, it’s hard to believe that there can still be a way for very little to be done – and then there’s multi-tasking.

What’s Multi-tasking? Multi-tasking sounds great as a concept – you divide your attention by doing multiple things little by little at the same time, and instead of finishing just one task, you can do two, three, or maybe even four.

However, once you actually start doing it, it’s actually hard to get anything done at all. Here’s why you should stop doing it:

1. Your brain can’t handle it. It’s designed to focus on one thing at a time, which is why many people describe being “in the zone”, or in a state where their focus is completely directed to their work and they don’t notice anything else. When you can’t focus on one thing, you also don’t feel the investment you’re putting into your work, and with this lack of oversight means…

2. You’re more likely to make mistakes. The more tasks you try to do at once, the more you try to shift between one task and the other. This means you can’t focus well enough on any one task, which means you’re more prone to making mistakes with your work. And because you’re not focusing on your work, you won’t commit it to memory, which leads to…

3. You inhibit creativity. When you’re constantly shifting your attention from one task to the next, not only do you rob yourself of the time you need to actually focus on getting it done, but you also prevent yourself from seeing any possible ways to improve the overall work. Even if you do get the tasks done, you keep yourself from accessing parts of your brain that allow for critical thinking and creativity, so you’ll only manage to come up with results that you won’t be too happy with.

Improving Focus and Concentration
With the constant stream of information being delivered to you through your computer and mobile devices, it can also be hard to focus on any one thing. However, you can still achieve focus through a number of ways.

Here are some tips you can use to improve your concentration and focus on your work:

• Eliminating distraction by prioritizing tasks from most urgent to least urgent, and start with the most urgent task first, and then work your way down until you clear up the least urgent tasks for the day.

• Engage with your work. Even if you don’t like what you’re doing and need to get it done, simply being passive and doing it for the sake of doing it won’t give you the results you want.

• Put aside all tasks not related to what you’re doing. If you find yourself researching information on the internet, close the tabs and applications that aren’t related to what you’re doing.

How to Clean Different Glasses and Screens

There’s a good chance that your work involves staring at a screen for long periods of time, and if you’re wearing eyeglasses in a humid country like Singapore, you’ll eventually come to a point where you will be squinting through lenses that are streaked with grease and smudges.

The same can be said for other types of glasses at home as well, such as your windows and mirrors, and because they are different types of glass, knowing how they should be cleaned can make a big difference.

Here’s how the different types of glasses are cleaned:

Eyeglasses
Cleaning your glasses daily prevents them from scratching and other types of damage in the long run. Wash your hands thoroughly before applying just a tiny amount of dishwashing liquid using your finger all over the lenses and the bridge.

Once that’s done, rinse it in hot water and dry off with a lint-free fabric (preferably your lens cloth, which is made of microfiber).

Alternatively, if your dishwashing soap contains oils, you can use a 50/50 solution of vinegar and distilled water. Rub the lenses with your lens cloth before letting them air-dry for best results.

LCD Screens
Some time ago, you may have used spray glass cleaners to clean CRT monitors and old TV sets. However, you can’t do the same with LCD screens.

What you can do to clean them is by using a 2:1 ratio of isopropyl rubbing alcohol and water, and just like with your glasses, be sure to use lint-free fabric when wiping them as using paper or tissue will only leave dust and paper fibers all over the surface.

You should also make sure to wipe the screen gently to avoid getting any scratches or accidental smudges.

Windows/Mirrors
Windows and mirrors are easier to clean by simply using glass or mirror cleaning fluid, but when you don’t have that at home, you can substitute it with a combination of distilled water and your choice of dish soap (1 tablespoon for every half-bucket) or vinegar (a 1:1 ratio).

And just like with the previous types of glasses, using a lint-free cloth is crucial for keeping smudges and scratches to a minimum. You can use a sponge for both windows and mirrors, but be sure that they don’t pick up any dust while cleaning.

To minimize the dust that’s settled on your windows, you can also use a vacuum cleaner to get rid of it before cleaning them, as dust can still stick to them, especially when wet.

And because dust can also collect on your bucket, replace your cleaner every now and then to keep the dust and dirt from depositing and leaving any streaks when dry.

How Not to Embarass Yourself in a Foreign Country

Travelling is supposed to be fun, and you’d want to explore new places feeling as confident and relaxed as possible. But before you head to the airport to catch a flight to Korea, Japan or US, take a look at this cheat-sheet to manage your expectations on cultural customs and behaviors.

1. Know when (and when not) to touch a person
Whether to touch or not can be confusing when you are in a foreign land. In many European countries, invading personal space for a bit may not be a big deal. But with much of African and Asian countries, you wouldn’t want to appear clingy. In France and Italy, maintaining eye contact, touching the other person and reaching out are considered more polite gestures than just staring at the person with your hands crossed over your chest. However, in Nigeria, maintaining eye contact can be perceived as threat or an overly bold move.

2. Mind the table manners
Although you were always taught that elbows should always be off the table and do not leave anything on your plate when done eating, table manners vary widely from country to country. In India and certain parts of Africa, it’s more than just keeping your elbows off the table. You also have to be mindful of your left hand—it shouldn’t touch anything on the table or it will be considered dirty. In Japan, you can slurp the soup, but do that in China and you’ll get all the strange stares at the table. In China, eating your rice with chopsticks is customary, but in Thailand it is considered inappropriate (use a spoon, instead).

3. Know whether you need to tip or not
In America, people do not leave a restaurant without leaving 15 percent tip on the table. However, in many countries around the world, tipping is either already part of the bill, unnecessary because the staff are paid much higher or just plain rude. Do not tip in Australia, Brazil and Japan. Leave at least five percent tip in Germany, France and Italy, while at least 10 percent tip in Russia, Egypt, South Africa and Hong Kong.

4. Dress appropriately
Unless you are headed somewhere In U.S., it’s best to dress more conservatively when in a foreign land. Cover your arms and legs and avoid wearing shirts with graphics and slogans that are too loud to the sight.

5. Learn the most basic local phrases
This is an obvious one, but we’ll say it again: learning the foreign language of basic phrases like “Hi,” “Hello,” “Please,” “Thank you,” “Where’s the bathroom,” and “Do you speak English” will go a long way in making you appear more friendly to the locals. It only takes a few minutes to learn these magic phrases that can greatly help turn strangers to friends anywhere you are.

Above all, be observant. Try to be the tourist that does not make the locals roll their eyes behind your back.

5 Non-Awkward Ways to Meet New People During Your Travel

Solo travel can be enlightening and invigorating, but it can also get boring at some point when you do not make the effort to make friends.

Why not just say ‘hi’ or ‘hello’ to your co-travellers or to a local? Here’s why: because randomly approaching anyone and introducing yourself to a stranger can be creepy and plain awkward—especially when you do not have friends to back you up. If you are one of those people who find introducing themselves to people they don’t know intimidating, here are some tips to help you find strangers with common interest and effortlessly make friends with them.

Stay at Hostels
Staying at hostels is an essential part to becoming a sociable solo traveller. Sleeping quarters and dormitory style room promotes conversation, while communal areas provide an ideal place to bond with co-travellers over bottles of beer.

Join a Walking Tour
A walking tour is not only a great (and free) way to go sight-seeing, but the nature of this tour lends to easier conversation. If you are joining a group that isn’t too large, the host or the tour guide will ask everyone to say their name and where they are from, which will give you an easy way to strike up a conversation with anyone during the tour. Stopping for a drink or meal also gives you the opportunity to socialize.

Eat Your Meal at the Bar
Opting to eat at a restaurant’s bar area will not only allow you to bypass the awkward ‘table for one’ scenario, but also give you the chance to chat with other diners sitting beside you (who is likely also dining alone), people ordering drinks or even with the bartender. Staffs usually make the extra effort to be friendly and chat with solo diners.

Embark on a Group Tour
Whether it is hours of drive or a three-day hike, group tours offer travel experiences that aren’t possible to take on alone. Smaller groups create closer camaraderie, especially when under challenging circumstances, while long drives encourage conversation to make the long travel tolerable.

Offer to Take Photos
Offer to take a photo of someone who’s trying to take a selfie in a good spot. By doing the universally recognized ‘camera’ mime, you’ll be able to start a conversation with a stranger in a non-conspicuous manner. If you spotted another solo traveller snapping a decent photo of themselves, offer your expertise. It is a natural prelude to a small talk that could turn into a picture-perfect friendship.

Travelling alone is a great chance for you to grow and know yourself even more. Do not let being alone dictate how you should socialize. By now, you should have realized that there are many different ways to make friends that the only thing you need is the desire to meet new people. The bottom-line is that making friends is just like how you do it back home: be proactive about it, be open-minded and prioritize your safety always.

A Basic Guide to Dressing Smartly for Work

There are a lot of men in Singapore don’t pay much attention to fashion and dressing well. Although this is the case, there is still a perfectly good reason for it; the heat. We dress for convenience instead of style, which is really a good thing. What men have to know though, is that we don’t have to sacrifice style at all. Especially in an office environment where we are expected to dress smartly too.

Knowing how to dress, what to wear, and what not to wear in the office can actually have a lot of benefits, even if you don’t notice them. That’s why we’ve listed a really simple guide you can use for reference!

Find the right fit
This is already fairly obvious, but there are still a lot of men who make mistakes with this one. We tend to pick clothes that are somewhat bigger so that we can let some air in. Again, here’s the issue with Singapore’s climate. Anyway, the right fit will always look good and it won’t really be as hot as you think. Plus, if you’re still worried about not looking good even when you’re wearing the right size, there are still a lot of aspects that can come together to improve your overall style.

Go to a tailor
This is somehow a continuation to the first point. If you’re really having difficulty looking for your size, you can try going to a tailor. It will be good for a man to at least have a few shirts, pants, or suits that are tailored for them.

Match colors
One of the more concrete examples for this one is with belts and shoes. As a rule, the color of your dress belt should match the color of your dress shoe. If your belt is brown, your shoe should be any shade of that color although preferably the same or a little lighter. Also, wear darker tones as they convey a stronger impression. Avoid neon colors, obviously because it passes off as informal for some reason. And wear black or gray socks only!

Get a trim
It is quite known that Asian men and beards don’t exactly go together. With some exceptions, of course, many cannot grow beards and look slick with them, unlike many westerners. Nevertheless, having no facial hear is still considered most professional. If you are one of those who can grow a thick beard and look good in it though, you can try to maintain it and keep it clean-looking.

Pay attention to footwear
The first thing people subconsciously notice is someone’s shoes. Now, whether this is true or not, it still shows that shoe style can mean a lot. That’s why you should not forget to clean them once in a while. Lastly, you should avoid wearing ankle socks with your dress shoes. Although it looks trendy, it’s deemed unprofessional.

How Does Human Touch Affect Us?

At one point in life, you may wonder why holding hands or hugging feels so good. Sometimes you may find yourself yearning for human touch, whether from your family, friends, boyfriends, or girlfriends. After all, there’s good reason for that.

The importance of human touch
Compared to being able to “feel” our surroundings with our hands, being on the receiving end can have just as much importance. Infants, for example, who are usually exposed to human touch can gain healthy weight faster and have improved mental development.

This, of course, carries on as we grow older. Sometimes though, social expectations limit our tactile interaction with others. A naturally touchy person will usually restrain himself/herself from hugging or touching strangers or people they just met, well, for obvious reasons.
Benefits

Reduce stress and anxiety
There are some Singaporeans, for instance, who walk along nature parks with their partners as a stress reliever. If you happen to try this out, you’ll know that it is effective. Human touch, especially non-sexual acts like hugging or holding hands can provide a feeling of comfort and assurance that can ease anxiety and stress.

Can improve mood
During tactile interactions, our body gets a boost of the “happy hormone”, oxytocin. This mainly helps to improve our mood, hence encouraging positive thoughts and increased feelings of compassion for others.

Strengthen relationships
Occasional tactile interactions with our family, friends, and partners can help strengthen our bond with them. Hugging, holding hands, light touches, or even massaging can promote trust and compassion between both parties.

Boost our immune system
Just like how human touch can increase oxytocin, it can also lower the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol in the body. This then contributes to a stronger immune system and better health overall. Also, it is said that hugs can promote the maintenance of our white blood cells. This is also said to help improve immunity.

Different body parts and human touch
• Hands – hands are obviously the most common because they are what we mainly use for our sense of touch. Although that’s the case, our hands can also be on the receiving end (e.g. when someone holds our hands).
• Neck – for many people, the neck is the most sensitive to human touch. Although much exposed to others, our neck is considered an intimate area. You may notice that if someone is anxious or afraid, they will usually cover their necks with their hands or clothes. While a person who is comfortable sits back and opens up with their neck usually exposed.
• Back – Majority of men and women also prefer their back to be stroked and caressed. This is probably because the back is the most easily accessible. We are also usually fine when friends and companions touch our back every now and then.

5 Foods You Didn’t Think Would Give You Gas (But Actually Do)

Even though you may think your day is going well, you can easily make it worse by eating the wrong foods that interfere with the good bacteria in your gut, which can cause indigestion and force you to make a run for the bathroom.

Here are a few foods you might want to skip out on if you want your belly and your life to run as smoothly as possible:

1. Broccoli
Complex sugars called raffinose are usually found in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and vinegar, which only break down when they enter the small intestine and can cause bloating and gas.

However, there’s no reason why you should give up on broccoli. If you want to munch on them for dinner, try not to overcook them to preserve their health benefits.

2. Artificial sweeteners
Even though sweeteners are sugar-free, that doesn’t mean they come with their own downsides. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin can alter your gut bacteria, resulting in more weight gain.

Sugar-free foods such as candies and gum can also make you feel bloated, or act as a laxative when you eat too much, as well as trick your stomach into producing more acids than it needs to.

If you want to sate your sweet tooth, there are still plenty of alternatives to sugar and artificial sweeteners, such as honey or coconut sugar.

3. Corn
Corn isn’t the easiest food that your system can process. If you don’t chew corn well enough, there’s a good chance that it will simply pass through undigested and cause an upset stomach when you’re not careful.

However, you can simply get around this by thoroughly chewing corn whether it’s canned or on the cob.

4. Fried foods
Fast food may not exactly be the definition of a healthy meal, but you’ll be surprised how quickly fried foods can go through your system undigested and make you feel more bloated.

Additionally, fried foods can either stay too long or too short in your system, and neither are good options for you.

The good news is there are plenty of alternatives for fast food in Singapore, and since you can easily get healthier foods for cheap, you have even more reasons to switch to a more tummy-friendly diet.

5. Citrus fruits
It might be tempting to add citrus fruits to your diet when you want to live a healthier lifestyle, but acidic fruits might only upset your stomach and further imitate the lining, which can lead to acid reflux and burping.
If you experience these symptoms, you might want to cut out the citrus fruits and opt for fruits such as bananas, which are great at easing heartburn.

5 High-Carb Foods that Can Help You Lose Weight

You might be too quick to blame carbohydrates for weight gain thanks to various fad diets, but when you lack your body’s primary source of energy, cutting them won’t necessarily help you shrink your waistline.

The good news is that you don’t need to cut all your carbohydrates to slim down – in fact, here are a few that can help you on your path to the figure you wanted:

1. Sweet potato
Curb your sweet tooth and carb cravings with sweet potato! Not only do they have a really small amount of fat, but you can also cook them in different ways, such as frying, roasting, or air-frying.

Sweet potatoes also contain adiponectin, which helps your body regulate your blood sugar, and only has very little carbs and sodium compared to white potatoes.

2. Whole grain bread/pasta
You can still be serious about losing weight without ditching bread, but instead of plain white bread, you can make the switch to whole grain bread because of its higher fiber content.

Whole grain pasta is also another option that lets you get your increased daily fiber intake easily, and you can even top it with olive oil and vegetables.

3. Oatmeal
Oatmeal may be a great snack for a rainy afternoon, but there’s a little more to it than that. Not only does oatmeal help you lower your overall blood pressure, but it also lowers your risk of heart disease and colon cancer.
When you do buy oatmeal, be sure to steer clear of the instant brands that have added sugar. Add almond butter or coconut sugar instead for flavor.

4. Brown/black rice
There are many alternatives to white rice to stock up on, and will arguably be the most essential grain in your diet.

For instance, brown rice may be a little higher in calories, but it also comes with the extra protein and fiber, as well as selenium. Black rice is just as good with its high levels of anthocyanin, which is a great antioxidant that lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even cancer.

5. Black beans
Legumes might be used mostly in vegetable dishes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add black beans in your diet by themselves.

Not only are black beans rich in soluble fiber and help you maintain healthy bones, but many studies have also shown that they can help you cut down your weight and lower your risk of heart disease as well as improve your digestion.

The best part about getting these high-carb foods is not only the fact that they are cheap and budget-friendly, but they are also versatile food ingredients you should definitely have in your kitchen.

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